After sleeping in a bit this morning (8 am instead of 7) I grabbed a cup of coffee and found myself watching a bit of America, The Story of US. I’ve seen the entire series before, but as I was channel surfing for suitable coffee time watching, the sight of the powdered wigs and Redcoats of the American Revolution somehow seemed fitting considering the date. It was a pretty nifty reminder of just why we celebrate July 4th as a nation.
It also served to remind me that I had declared my own independence just shy of seven years ago. I broke from the tyranny of having other people determine what days I could and couldn’t have off from work. The dictatorship of punching a time clock, carefully planning vacation days and worrying about unpaid sick days was overthrown and replaced by the freedom of knowing I could work when and where I wanted. And although I’ve discovered I’m a tougher ‘boss’ than any of my former employers, it’s liberating to know that the decisions regarding my time are mine alone.
I’ve also discovered that sometimes launching your own business can be more oppressive than working for someone else. In the same way that the Revolutionary War continued five years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th ,1776, starting your own business tends to lead to a series of battles in the struggle to enjoy the independence you’ve proclaimed.
And the biggest struggle is always time.
In reality, during the first stages of business start-up, you’re really trading one tyrant for another. You no longer have a ‘boss’ telling you what to do, but you’re probably the one who is responsible for all the work getting done. It’s hard to take a holiday or even a sick day, when you are already fighting to get everything done. If it comes down to getting work done to keep a roof over your head and enjoying a holiday weekend, most people are going to do the work. It’s those kinds of long hours and lack of personal time that can often spell defeat for small businesses. So what can you do in order to finally claim that independence you dreamed of?
What? Yes, I just said surrender. And I know battles aren’t won by surrendering, but I’m not talking about throwing up the white flag here. I’m talking about surrendering a bit of control and getting a little help. Even George Washington saw the wisdom in getting support from France. Without the money, munitions, soldiers and naval support of the French, the outcome of the Revolutionary War could have been much different. The French alliance was a key turning point in the war.
In the same way, allying yourself with someone who can give your business the support it needs can be a turning point as well. Suddenly you’re not overwhelmed with an undone to-do list. There is no longer a list as long as your arm of things you need to do but haven’t had time yet. You’ve got your ally and they’ve cleared the path for your victory. And freedom. The freedom to enjoy a holiday weekend with your family without worrying about what’s not getting done. The freedom to relax and enjoy a trip to the beach or a two week vacation. The freedom to take afternoons off all summer long or to do whatever you’re still dreaming of being able to do.
Small and even micro businesses no longer can use the excuse that they haven’t grown to the point of hiring someone to help. With the increase in virtual service providers (like me!) it’s not a question of hiring, it’s a question of figuring out exactly what kind of help you need and finding the right virtual professional to work with to help you and your business win battles and ultimately the war. And yes, it will mean surrendering a few things, a bit of money and control, but the result will be victory. Business growth and freedom.
So tell me, are you ready to do what it takes to not only declare your independence but to claim it?
(By the way, I’m not working today but I did choose to pen this blog post. Another perk of independence.)